Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Splendor in the Squash

One of the joys of fall is the appearance of piles of wildly colorful squash at the supermarket, from delicatas to cinderella pumpkins to carnival squashes, along with old friends acorn and butternut. Versatile and flavorful, there's no end to their use in dishes as varied as soups, casseroles, risottos, pasta dishes, even desserts.

So when I found a nice little Cinderella pumpkin at my local market, I just had to take it home, chop it up and bake it with no idea how I'd use it. Which is half the fun of buying it in the first place. In this case, I scooped out the flesh, put it in a container and stuck it in the fridge while I pondered my options.

Looking on Epicurious for something different, I ran across a recipe calling for pumpkin and coconut milk to make a creamy Thai-influenced soup. It came together very quickly and got raves from the crowd here, so it looks like this one will be making another appearance before long.

Silky Coconut Pumpkin Soup (keg bouad mak fak kham)
adapted from Epicurious.com

3 to 4 shallots, minced
1 1/2 lbs. cooked pumpkin
2 c. canned or fresh coconut milk
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce, or to taste
Generous grindings of black pepper
1 c. loosely packed coriander leaves, chopped fine

Coat the bottom of a medium-sized soup pot with canola oil and sauté the shallots over low heat. Place the coconut milk, broth and pumpkin flesh in the pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt and simmer over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste for salt and add a little more fish sauce if you wish.

Take the soup off the burner and, using an immersion blender, purée the soup till smooth and creamy. If using a blender, allow to cool slightly and puree one cup at a time. The soup can be served immediately, but has even more flavor if left to stand for up to an hour. Reheat just before serving.
Serve from a large soup bowl or in individual bowls. Grind black pepper over generously, and, if you wish, garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro. Put any leftover cilantro in a small bowl on the table and sprinkle at will. Leftovers freeze very well.

2 comments:

Katherine Gray said...

Oh, yum! I have four squashes waiting for me in the kitchen. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who buys foods, cooks them up, and THEN goes looking for a recipe!

Last week I had an amazing lentil soup with coconut milk at, of all places, the New Seasons Deli. Since then I've been trying to talk myself into buying coconut milk, considering our local eating committtments. But given that I can't do cow's milk in our house due to allergies, and soy milk just isn't the same in soups, I may have found my justification!

kab said...

Oh, my gosh...I do that all the time, especially at the farmers' markets! If something looks good (squash, arugula, beets, peppers) I'll just get it and then figure out something to do with it. It often leads to a new favorite dish!

As for the coconut milk, it's an indulgence every once in awhile. And we usually use the "light" version.

In any case, have fun!